The IFBB was founded in 1946 in Montreal, Canada by brothers Joe and Ben Weider. Ben Weider served as IFBB President from 1946 to 2006... Read more at ifbb.com...

Executive Assistant
IFBB Vice President's Office

The Idea

During the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) decided to rescind its control of bodybuilding; leaving the option to its national affiliates to continue its management or withdraw their relationship. The Puerto Rican Weightlifting Federation decided to continue ruling bodybuilding, with the argument that both disciplines would remain under Olympic recognition.

A very young athlete, Javier Pollock, who began resistant training with weights in the early 1960's to improve his wrestling, boxing and football abilities in the amateur field, remained inspired on his muscular development achievements, but highly disappointed with the bodybuilding management by local weightlifting officials. Having the benefit of being an athlete in other sports supplied the young sportsman with the constant heated discussion of fairness and respect to athletes by other sports organizations that were, in his opinion, non-existent to bodybuilders and grossly exaggerated to weightlifters.

The Motivation

The cited young athlete was infuriated by the end of 1969, when he learned that the resources of the Puerto Rican Olympic Committee would economically favor national federations with multiple sports disciplines; thus justifying the budgetary reasons for weightlifting officials to retain power over muscle-developed athletes. Bodybuilding's disarray, disseminated by the weightlifting federation, had already assisted in creating an independent association in the southern part of Puerto Rico and another small organization in the northeast, with additional prospective alliances in the planning phases. The potential for bodybuilding's complete fragmentation was fast-approaching.

Javier Pollock's stepfather was a wealthy and respected construction tycoon, with one of his many investments allocated to the part-ownership of a professional team within the Puerto Rican Winter Baseball League. It took consistent compelling efforts by the stepson to convince him to invest in disfranchising bodybuilding from weightlifting. The industrialist announcement to support Javier's splitting goals in mid-1971, ascertained the beginning of a difficult and tedious process that culminated in June 1972, with the first ever Puerto Rican National Bodybuilding Championship to be televised - live and in prime time - by a commercial network; as opposed to previous editions through the "ratings-challenged" government T.V. station. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the guest poser and Ben Weider the visiting speaker. The contest also introduced women athletes in a "figure-style" bikini competition, at a time when athletic females were still considered to be socially undesirable.

One month after the historic competition, the Puerto Rican government (Department of Sports & Recreation) recognized the CBBC(1) as the official sports organization authorized to control and govern bodybuilding at the national level; but this certification did not stopped the weightlifting federation - and other independent promoters - to continue staging events.

The Contacts

Concerned for his impending national efforts in Puerto Rico to be insufficient against the powerful and influential weightlifting federation, the youthful Javier immediately envisioned a broader spectrum of possibilities and, during the last three months of 1971, he began mailing several letters to AAU(2) officials; which remained unanswered. Frustrated by international inaction, he planned to contact IFBB(3) executives - with NABBA(4) administrators as a last resort - seeking a favorable response to his worldwide aspirations. The young athlete never contacted anyone else, as the energetic and enthusiastic reply by Ben Weider in early 1972 was very convincing.

Both sportsmen exchanged important data that allowed Javier to seek assistance from other federations in the Caribbean area. The IFBB(3) President also supported the viability of having the 1974 or 1975 Men's World Championships in Puerto Rico. Although Javier agreed, his stepfather favored a more discrete advance, as he was still committed to continue financing larger efforts; but not with a fragmented foundation.

Through correspondence exchanges with several Caribbean national federations, provided by the IFBB, Javier discovered the existence of a traditional annual competition under the title "Mr. West Indies". Knowing that Puerto Rico had large communities of citizens from nearby countries and realizing that an international competitive structure was already in place; he launched the concept of a Caribbean Championship as a replacement for the West Indies competition; which was sporadically held, poorly organized and with a significant attendance decline at that time.

The first bodybuilding leader with a positive response by the end of 1972 was Victor Copra, from Curacao (Netherlands Antilles), followed by Winfield Bascombe (Barbados) and Aldwyn Harris (Trinidad & Tobago) in early 1973. Armed with these three letters and through the local communities of foreign residents, Mr. Pollock contacted two individuals not included in the IFBB list: Mr. Camilo Leslie (Dominican Republic) and Imbert Roberts (Virgin Islands). In the spring of 1973, both countries accepted the invitation.

Robert Sandiford (St. Lucia) was reluctant to withdraw his support for the West Indies contest in favor of a more inclusive event. But he finally agreed with the objective in the summer of 1973.

The very first Caribbean Championships was scheduled to take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico, by the end of August 1973. But continuous political interference, instigated by the influential weightlifting federation, forced the recognized CBBC(1) leadership into multiple venue and date changes. The subtle threat of legal intervention by Javier's stepfather ended the obstructions.

In October of the same year, Aldwyn Harris confirmed the participation on one athlete, indicating he would not be traveling in December due to economic constraints.

The First Meeting

The cabanas inside Boqueron Beach, a government resort near the town of Cabo Rojo in the south westernmost tip of the island of Puerto Rico, were the official accommodations for the 7 participating delegations. The long meeting took place in one of the cabanas on Friday, 7th December 1973.

The main topics during the meeting were the continuity and expansion of the championships, plus an international Board of Directors.

The 1974 event was allocated to Bridgetown, Barbados and the 1975 contest to Willemstad, Curacao. The assembled group of delegates unanimously agreed on the following executive designations:

Javier Pollock (Puerto Rico, President)
Victor A. Copra (Netherlands Antilles, Vice President)
Imbert Roberts (Virgin Islands, General Secretary)
Robert Sandiford (St. Lucia, Treasurer)
Mr. Camilo F. Leslie (Dominican Republic, Medical Commission Chairman)
Winfield Bascombe (Barbados, Public Relations)

The new board accepted the President's proposition to follow the regional Olympic games configuration by including all of Central America, together with Mexico and the South American northern coast countries in future competitions and meetings; thus converting the current contest into the Central American & Caribbean (C.A.C.) Championships. The board members also consented on the President's suggestion to adopt the new name of Central American & Caribbean Bodybuilding Federation (CACBBF); to accommodate future affiliated member nations. In addition, the board members urged the President to seek election as IFBB Vice President, but Javier declined arguing that having Victor Copra in that position and him as Caribbean & future Central American & Caribbean President would deliver a more efficient administration.

The Competition

The Dominican Republic, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands registered 3 competitors each. Barbados and St. Lucia had 2 athletes, with one from Trinidad and Tobago for a total of 17 participants.

The prejudging was held early afternoon on Saturday, 8th December 1973 in the Conference Room inside Cabo Rojo's City Hall building. Only the competitors, judges and other officials witnessed this private segment. The finals took place in an open-air bowl stage in the middle of the town's City Square, which was attended - free of charge - by approximately 600 spectators; including out of town fans and several international tourists.

Earl Sandiford (St. Lucia) won the short class. Gerardo San Antonio (Puerto Rico) was triumphant in the medium class and Kenneth Bradshaw (Trinidad & Tobago) defeated everyone in the tall class. The muscular definition and impressive vascular genetics of Gerardo San Antonio, rarely seen in those days, facilitated his victory over the taller and more massive Trinidadian for the overall title; with Sandiford taking third place.

The Repercussions

The Puerto Rican regional bodybuilding association in the south and the group of gyms in the northeast ultimately accepted to join the CBBC(1) in early 1974.

In 1975, Puerto Rican weightlifting officials withdrew its control of the few bodybuilders still supporting that federation. Almost all of them continued their careers as weightlifters. The same year, Victor Copra organized the C.A.C. Championships, together with the "Mr. International" contest. Egypt was the only country outside the CACBBF area to participate, with Darcy Beckles (Barbados) winning the C.A.C. overall title and Mohamed Makkawy (Egypt) emerging victorious with the International overall crown. In this competition, Reverend Carlos Smith becomes the first Central American delegate to participate in the C.A.C. Championships representing Panama, with Rafael Duncan as the sole competitor.

Barbados quickly turns into the region's competitive superpower; with athletes like Darcy Beckles, Loftus Roach, Bernard Sealy, Patrick Nicholls and others toppling everyone in their respective height classes and later in their particular bodyweight categories. Barbadian athletes also achieved significant accomplishments at the world level, with Darcy Beckles almost turning into a world champion in 1976 and Bernard Sealy capturing the universe crown at the 1989 World Championships in Paris, France.

In 1976 and under the leadership of Claude Charles, Guyana becomes the first South American country to participate in the C.A.C. Championships. The same contest welcomes Lloyd Young with the first delegation from Jamaica. The Bahamas, with Hubert Wong at the helm, also initiates their uninterrupted participation that year.

In 1982, Colombia becomes the second South American country to take part in the C.A.C. Championships. The same C.A.C. competition also welcomed Martinique and Guadeloupe as the first French territories to join the fast-growing continental phenomenon.

Javier Pollock did not organized the 1974 or 1975 Men's World Championships, but his reputation upsurge within the IFBB(3) through the 70's and 80's allowed him to successfully stage the 1988 Women's World Championships in San Juan; making him the second Caribbean promoter to host an international event - after Victor Copra - and the first to produce a World Championship in a Caribbean country. His stepfather passed away earlier that year.

The C.A.C.B.B.F. Successions

After Javier Pollock's retirement in 1976, Victor Copra (Curacao, Netherlands Antilles) became the second CACBBF President, with Javier's re-election in 1980 until his second retirement in 1982. Luis Gravenhorst (Curacao, Netherlands Antilles) substituted Javier as the third CACBBF President in 1983 until his term conclusion in 1987. Dr. Norman Gay, who also brought powerlifting into the Bahamas, became the fourth CACBBF President until his replacement by Javier, again, in 1990. In 2002, Javier announced his final CACBBFF farewell, for a total of 17 years in 4 different decades at the helm.

The CACBBF added a second "F" at the end of its abbreviated title in 1996, when female fitness was added to the C.A.C. Championships configuration.

Lt. Col. Bruce Barclay (Jamaica) became the fifth CACBBFF President until 2006, when the current and sixth President, Mr. Giovanni Arendsz (Aruba), replaced him.

The I.F.B.B. Successions

Steve Victory (Guyana) was appointed IFBB(3) Vice President in 1970, with Victor Copra elected in 1974 and Luis Gravenhorst selected in 1982 until 1988. Javier Pollock was designated as IFBB(3) Vice President in 1989 and re-elected ever since.

The Present

The young athlete with the wealthy stepfather would have never imagine that what started as a personal struggle to liberate bodybuilding from weightlifting at a local level, would become an international sports organization honored by the renaming of an important crossroad as "C.A.C. Boulevard" and the sculpting of a giant statue by the Government of Guyana; with special proclamations and accolades by 17 Central American and Caribbean Governments.

Apart from the mandatory sporting events, the CACBBFF offers three levels of sports administration that allows officials to develop the necessary skills, acquiring indispensable experience to perform their duties:

Level 1 = Four sub-regional associations (Antilles, Central America, Eastern Caribbean and Southern Caribbean), were sports management if circumscribed to a specific smaller region.

Level 2 = A sub-continental sports federation, were managing is exposed to all 38 member countries and territories.

Level 3 = Office of the Caribbean Vice-presidency, were management performance is structured to supervise all activities in the sub-continental region, sustaining a constant link with the worldwide institution governing the sports disciplines within the IFBB(3).

With Ben Weider (Canada) in charge of the IFBB(3) Professional League and Rafael Santonja (Spain) as the new IFBB(3) President, the CACBBFF will continue to maintain and improve the standards of administration excellence expected from both leaders, athletes, officials, governments and from the public at large.

(1) CBBC = Commonwealth Bodybuilders Confederation / the previous national sport federation that integrated all bodybuilding groups and alliances in Puerto Rico at a time of serious divisive quarrels.

(2) AAU = Amateur Athletic Union / a former national and international sports governing organization based on the U.S.A.

(3) IFBB = International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness.

(4) NABBA = National Amateur Body Builders Association / a former IFBB rival faction founded in 1950, which is still active.